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Gay Times March 12 - Issue 403

Let Them Eat Cake

Ten years ago the Women’s Institute, your nan and an exceedingly good chap called Mr Kipling had the baking market all sewn up.

Fast-forward a decade and now every card-carrying gay with a jar of sprinkles and a greasy tin in his kitchen cupboard will have whipped up at least one batch of cupcakes for his work colleagues.

Baking has become a multi-million pound industry and we’re at the heart of its revival. Gay British cooks are selling more books about baking than traditional family favourites like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey. And half the top 10 selling recipe books sold in the UK last year were instructing us on how to be a domestic goddess in our own gaff.
One of the first men to taste a gap in the market was gay former TV producer Tarek Malouf (pictured). It was a love of desserts that others had baked rather than those made by his own fair hand that inspired to open The Hummingbird Bakery in Notting Hill’s Portobello Road.

“I was raised in London but went to an American school so I’ve always been used to American desserts and baked goods,” he tells GT. “Back in 2002, I didn’t think there were any places in London that made good quality American baked goods – they had a reputation of being cheap, artificial and too sweet. But I knew that wasn’t the case.”
Two years and hundreds of experimental cupcakes and baked delicacies later, and Tarek developed a recipe for success in his own kitchen.

“I was clear on what I wanted to sell, how the shop should look and what the products should taste like,” he recalls. “And it was a success from the start. At the time, we were, I think, the only place in the country making cupcakes.”
Location, word of mouth and praise in magazine editorials have all helped to build Hummingbird’s reputation, and Tarek has just opened his fifth London bakery.

Words: John Marrs

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